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"My Tomatoes are Manically Depressed"

I am convinced that I have the most depressed, and unhealthy tomatoes in Austin, Texas right now . . . look at them. . .  - I can't! 

 
Potted and surrounded by straw to moderate container temperatures, I had high hopes this year! . . whoops!

I hear them groaning as I inch past them on my way down the yard to feed the fish, and then they splutter and cough on my way back. I do not like to look at them, but their grotesque form somehow beckons me to sneak a sidways peek - arrgh - they should be in a side-show at the state fair....or,  if they had tiny legs, 
climbing up the bell tower of Notredame. In all fairness it is me who "created" these edible monstrosities.  I now feel obliged to occasionally perform keyhole surgery on them and apply topical seaweed for medicinal purposes, to try to ease their insufferable pain.

It doesn't seem to be helping.

What I really want to do is rip them from their pots and throw their own mealy fruit 
back at them, whilst laughing insanely - but that would be cruel. No, they will be out there moaning and sniffing until the very last fruit ripens and is picked by tiny hands,then it will be straight into the trash with them all. 

I will try again next year, I always do.

This is how healthy they looked when they were growing only a few weeks earlier:

 
Everything was just fine for a while - good fruit set - healthy foliage, this was going to be my year.

I think the combination of early blight, poor selection, aliens and erratic moisture conditions formed the basis for this year's hideous display. Next year I plan to spread the risk and purchase a whole variety of different cultivars to see which ones do best . . . suggestions welcome!

Growing well right now:


Palm Grass [Curculigo capitulata]

The Palm Grass is 3 to 4ft tall forming large clumps. Leaves are six in.wide 
with parallel groves running the entire length of the leaf. Leaves are often 
used in flower arrangements. I grow two of these - making sure I cut off 
most of the seed heads when they form late Summer. This plant has an 
amazing propensity to self seed if this practice is not instigated. Fantastic 
tropical form, mine get to 6ft in diameter by the end of the summer. I would 
plant more if I had the space, this one is 3yrs old.

 

Black Swallowtail caterpillars on a line of fennel I always plant just for 
their own personal, annual banquet.


Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat plants in the Umbellifer family.  This includes parsley, dill, fennel, even carrots (the green tops).  Swallowtails have a 'scent horn' that sticks out of their head when disturbed, something I have always wanted myself after a good night out. The chrysalis will be either green or brown, depending on the conditions where it pupates. Big fat caterpillars, straight out of
a story book, can you have too many?

All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Stay tuned for:
"My Compost Pile Burped at me"

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
firesprite1105
May. 15th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Oh, those are sad tomatoes indeed.

I think rather than throw their fruit back at them, I would recall to mind those studies about how talking to plants helps them grow. Since seaweed bribery didn't seem to work, and I'm guessing you've tried begging, I would prop up a big motivational picture of a big, strapping tomato bush for those tomatoes to see how much they suck, and then give those wilted buggers a good talking-to! And if that doesn't do the trick, you can always threaten one with decapitation to "motivate" the other, and maybe remove a few branches to show you're serious business.

Or maybe I've been watching too many gangster flicks. ;P
east_side_patch
May. 15th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
"Those Wilted Buggers"
Thanks for the motivational ideas Firesprite, they make us seriously laugh now - a genetic experiment gone "hay"wire. I have tried everything - and I haven't had to threaten to remove a few branches. . . they removed them themselves - damn - they are pulling their own limbs off! things are worse then I thought.

Hope you are enjoying the Blog.
(Anonymous)
May. 16th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Manically Depressed Tomatoes
Man, I feel your pain! I too have sad tomatoes that even a tomato worm would laugh at. What kind of tomatoes are you growing? I have been trying heirloom the past couple of years and the best results in the Fall. Try again then with an Italian or southern tomato. Enjoy reading your blog. Congrats on your cute little Howler Monkey--what a cutie.
east_side_patch
May. 16th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: Manically Depressed Tomatoes
Thanks - it makes me feel better someone else is having similar problems. Perhaps the damp conditions this year?
I can't remember what variety these were - but I remember they were touted as a 'smaller' tomato better for Texas (HA!) - apparently they would ripen faster, less chance of the bugs getting to them, etc. The least of my worries as it turns out. Thank you for your suggestions - I will try them out.
The Howler Monkey is keeping us awake most nights right now - screaming from the Timbers top canopy,
perhaps a territorial thing. He has also taken up residency in my compost patch as you can see - he might become a permanent Blog feature. Thank you for your positive comments on my site - I hope you will continue with me on the journey. Do you have a Blog?
Thanks for commenting again,
Philip.
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Manically Depressed Tomatoes
Nope, no blog yet, though I am sorely tempted. I have just entered the bright world of blogging, and am enjoying reading what others have to say. I can't help feeling an affinity to all the gardening bloggers out there, and it is so nice when everyone adds their own personal touch.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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